On June 11 and 12, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, the Tennessee Native Plant Society, TennesseeWild, and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association will co-sponsor four outings based on conservation issues, hiking and native plants in the Ocoee area.
The events will include:
• Benton Falls hike, 10 a.m. EDT — On Saturday morning Larry Pounds (well-known area botanist and board member of TCWP and TNPS) will lead a three- to four-mile hike to Benton Falls. The trail is easy, except for the short descent to the base of the waterfall.
• Ocoee River motorcade, 3 p.m. — A rare-plant survey is currently being conducted along U.S. 64 in the Ocoee Gorge.
Joey Shaw (Tennessee Native Plant Society) and others are checking for possible impacts to such plants from proposed improvements to the highway. He will lead a motorcade Saturday afternoon with stops along the road to see plants and sights of interest, including the chalk maple.
• Big Creek Trail, 9:30 a.m. — Jeff Hunter, head of TennesseeWild, will lead a hike on the Big Creek Trail, which passes through a beautiful area that has potential to become a federal wilderness area. The Big Creek Trail, an easy two-mile in-and-out hike, is relatively flat, but narrow in a few places. Hikers will see an impressive stand of hemlocks, large beech trees, and a variety of native plants at the edge of Big Frog Wilderness.
• Benton MacKaye Trail hike through Little Frog Wilderness Study Area, 1 p.m. — Dick Evans, president of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association, will lead a hike on a section of the Benton MacKaye Trail, an alternative to the Appalachian Trail.
This section passes through an area that has been proposed for federal wilderness status.
Hikers will go from Deep Gap on Kimsey Highway to U.S. 64 (5.6 miles with a car shuttle), or can do a shorter hike out and back from Deep Gap.
For more information or to register for any of the events, contact Larry Pounds (PoundsL471@aol. com; cell 865-705-8516; home phone 865-816-3576).
Additional information, including driving directions, is available on the TCWP web site, www.tcwp.org.